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A Piece of My Mind
April 26, 2000

Holding the Bag

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2000;283(16):2073-2074. doi:10.1001/jama.283.16.2073

Dr Green shrugged eloquently when I told him he had pneumonia. It had been 45 years since penicillin had demoted his disease, once "the captain of the men of death," but he was already nearing his middle age by then, and perhaps he still remembered his helpless bedside vigils in the houses of dying children who had been skipping rope only a few days earlier. Perhaps his silence bespoke a vast disbelief; so much tragedy and death, all the grief-filled birthdays and anniversaries, now casually avoided with a handful of pills.

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